The Amarna Age: Inscribed Clay Cylinder from Beth-Shean, by Dr. Wayne Horowitz

[Excerpt from article]

Amarna TabletIn 1887, an Egyptian woman discovered a cache of cuneiform tablets now known as the Amarna archive. This archive, which today numbers approximately 380 tablets and fragments, was named for the archaeological site at which it was found, Tell El Amarna. As the ancient Egyptian city Akhetaten, Amarna served briefly as the capital of Egypt during the reign of Amenophis IV (1363–1347 BCE) the Pharaoh who, under the self-selected name of Akhenaten, had exchanged the traditional cult of Egypt for the cult of the Aton and moved the capital to this new location. The Amarna documents, which originate during both the reign of Amenophis IV and that of his father Amenophis III (1402–1363), are written on clay in Akkadian cuneiform, the international language of the second millennium BCE.

The vast majority of the documents in the Amarna archive were the 350 letters, or inventories attached to letters, commonly known as “the Amarna letters.” These inscribed clay tablets provide us with a glimpse of the incoming and outgoing communications of the courts of Amenophis III and IV, whose empires included the land of Canaan. Messengers, mār šipri, carried the letters with them from sender to recipient. Although the language of the Amarna letters was Akkadian, the dialect of the letters was not the standard dialect of the Mesopotamian cuneiform homeland, but rather a mixed dialect that included both standard Akkadian vocabulary and forms as well as features drawn from West Semitic dialects.

Biblical Archaeologist on CD-ROMHopkins, D. 2001, c1997. Vol. 60 numbers 1-4: Biblical Archaeologist : Volume 60 1-4. Biblical Archaeologist volume 60 numbers 1-4. (electronic ed.). Logos Library System. American Schools of Oriental Research: Philadelphia


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The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Dr. Wayne Horowitz


BA: Brandeis University, Waltham Massachusetts
PhD: University of Birmingham, Birmingham England

Research Interests:
Cuneiform in Canaan Project, is a study of sources written in Cuneiform from The Land of Israel.
Astrolabes and Related Texts, examines the earliest surviving group of astronomical texts.


Books by Dr. Horowitz

Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography, Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake Indiana, 1998.

Cuneiform in Canaan, Cuneiform Sources from The Land of Israel in Ancient Times, The Israel Exploration Society, Jerusalem, in press, with Takayoshi Oshima and Seth Sanders.

The Astrolabes and Related Texts: Mesopotamian Astronomy Before 1000 B.C., Archiv fur Orientforschung Beihefte-series, Vienna – in preparation.

W. Horowitz with P. Watson, A Catalogue of Cuneiform Tablets in The Birmingham City Museum, Volume II, Aris & Phillips Ltd., Warminster, 1993.

W. Horowitz with P. Watson, A Catalogue of Cuneiform Tablets in The Birmingham City Museum, Volume I, Aris & Phillips Ltd., Warminster, 1986.